It’s a lot easier to write a column if you don’t care about accuracy


Now that Longhorn Rumor Season seems to have kicked up, I'm reminded of Windows 95 Rumor Season. The great thing about writing a rumors column is that you don't have to be right! Even if you're wrong, you can just say, "Well, Microsoft changed it before they shipped," and nobody can say you were wrong. It's a victimless crime! The only victim is Microsoft!

Here's a classic example from early 1995:

Notes from the Field
Microsoft's latest security scheme could leave users of Windows 95 dongling

BY ROBERT X. CRINGELY

One thing that will be pretty darned hard to steal, come Aug. 24, is a renegade copy of Windows 95. Just before heading to the DMV, I heard that the kids in Redmond plan to cut Win95 piracy to zilch by requiring the use of a dongle. Yes, a dongle.

Just in case you've led a charmed or boring life, a dongle is a thingamajig that plugs into one of your PC I/O ports. One dongle is shipped for each copy of the OS and the software won't work if it can't detect the proper dongle.

The upshot of this plan is that you can load as many copies of Win95 as you like, but only the machine with the dongle will work.

Now the requisite qualifiers, pre-paid backpedaling, and so on: I believe this information to be true, but I have it from only one source, so it should be classified as a rumor. Microsoft could change its mind on the dongle security strategy tomorrow.

Emphasis mine. And the great thing is, if the story turns out untrue, you can even take credit for it! "Thanks to public uproar over my amazing scoop, Microsoft changed their mind and decided not to do this thing" (that they weren't planning on doing anyway).

It's very frustrating reading rampant bogus rumors about your product and not being able to do anything about it.

So remember, all you Lonhorn rumor-consumers: Just because you saw it in the newspaper doesn't mean that it's true.

Comments (9)
  1. Chris Sells says:

    On the other hand, if there is public feedback on something and we hear about it, we listen.

  2. Florian W. says:

    Just for curiosity, do you understand why there is some MS bashing in the world?

  3. You mean Cringely was wrong about something? GASP! You don’t say! I can’t believe that guy still has a job.

  4. Jimmy Layton says:

    I find that hard to believe that public feedback makes in anywhere but a few nods of ok.

    Windows XP Sp2 people want it more than ever now since the blaster…

    So far its been a wait till 2004 attitude.

    Looks like the whole world has no choice but to fill there add/remove with over 50 hotfixes by then.

    AND longhorn, don’t get me started with that, I could give you a ton of feedback on it, but I doubt it would do much good.

  5. Raymond Chen says:

    We so listen to feedback. I’ve been working on two customer requests for the past week. The Product Support teams product excellent summary reports for us on what sorts of things are causing the most problems.

    I know how frustrating it is, though, to give feeback and get not much of a response beyond, "Thanks for your feedback." We can’t really talk about what we’re doing to incorporate your feedback, but rest assured we got it. Note also that we get lots of conflicting feedback, so a balance needs to be struck. Your cool feature is somebody else’s support nightmare.

  6. Jimmy Layton says:

    I couldn’t see how a service pack being moved up the schedule could be bad for anyone?

    except those who have to actually work on it :)

    I understand your point of view, I guess after PDC and you MS folks can talk about Longhorn, can I be the first to email MY suggestions/annoyances.

  7. Luci Sandor says:

    But if it used a dongle, what will be the fault?
    DO use a dongle! It’s your work, why not protecting it?

  8. quanta says:

    Because dongles have some bloody annoying issues.

    One other thing: why doesn’t any PR flacks from MS issue any statements on things like this? (I know there are legal reasons, but even a catch-all "There are some very strange rumours being passed around. Please ignore them" would suffice) These rumours just snowball because everyone takes MS’s stony silence as admittance of guilt.

  9. Where did the value "$10" come from?

Comments are closed.